Sanquin researcher receives HORIZON grant for immunotherapy to treat pediatric brain tumors

Iosifina Foskolou from Sanquin Research has been awarded a European HORIZON grant to investigate the targeting of tumor-host interactions in pediatric malignant gliomas as part of an international consortium. The grant, which totals over €11.5m, will support groups in Poland, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, and Oxford to work collaboratively. 

Pediatric high-grade gliomas are one of the major causes of cancer-related deaths in children, with only 10% of patients surviving 2 years post diagnosis. Conventional treatments are not sufficient to treat children with high-grade malignant gliomas and researchers have turned towards promising new therapies. On that front, Iosifina, in collaboration with the rest of the consortium, will explore the effect of novel immunotherapies on these deadly cancers. Her group at Sanquin will use modified T cells called CAR-T cells (chimeric antigen receptor T cells) that can recognize specifically the cancer cells in patients. Although CAR-T cell immunotherapy has shown some initial promising results for patients with pediatric malignant gliomas, the efficacy of the therapy is reduced by the hostile micro-environment of the tumour. The researchers of this grant will use a plethora of different tools to target this hostile tumour micro-environment to increase the infiltration and persistence of CAR-T cells. The main aim is to use a combination of existing therapies (chemotherapy and radiotherapy) with the novel CAR-T cell therapy to improve patient outcome.